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Flicker nest boxes at Hamilton Farmers Market: Local man’s creations shelter feathered friends, save homeowner’s siding in the process

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Ed Hayes with his flicker nesting box

Ed Hayes poses with one of the flicker boxes he sells at the Hamilton Farmers Market.

Ed Hayes, Hamilton Farmers Market vendor for the past seven years, is building flicker nesting boxes to keep the large woodpeckers from making nesting holes in homes and outbuildings.

Ed had a flicker drilling a hole in his shop a couple of years ago and neighbors were also having problems with the birds hammering holes in their homes. Ed wanted to stop the flickers from destroying siding and also do something positive for these beautiful and beneficial birds that eat insects and build cavities for other native birds like wood ducks, mountain bluebirds, mergansers, and chickadees that can’t excavate their own holes. He did some research online at Cornell Lab of Ornithology and western states’ extension services, and decided to find out if “his” flicker would accept a human-made nesting box and leave his siding alone.

The box worked, and Ed began making them for neighbors, and friends of friends. He added flicker nesting boxes to Adirondack furniture this year.

“I have a little sawmill and use my own lumber,” says Ed, a retired USFS timber sales preparer. “The market is my only outlet for selling my furniture. I’m working on a bunch of orders for Adirondack chairs from opening day right now.”

Ed built the blue-painted outdoor furniture scattered on the museum lawn. Each Saturday many market customers take advantage of Ed’s comfortable seats for of a good spot to rest, grab a bite to eat, listen to music, or simply people-watch.

A market-goer stopped by on opening day as Ed was talking about his new flicker boxes. The man asked Ed why would a flicker need a nesting box? Couldn’t they just dig out a hole in a tree themselves?

Ed explains that as people build more houses, natural nesting sites (dead trees or rotten limbs) are removed by people who think they are unattractive. Also, non-native species like starlings and house sparrows often take over existing nesting holes. Consequently, flickers become a nuisance to homeowners who have cedar siding or shingles on their houses and outbuildings. Flickers hammer on them and they sound hollow. The big woodpeckers then drill holes in the siding for nests.

“Flickers are territorial, so if they decide to nest in a box, they will keep other flickers and woodpeckers away from your buildings,” explains Ed.

Ed’s boxes are built specifically for flickers to use. They are tightly filled with pine shavings and open easily to clean out in the fall and refill in spring. The shavings do double duty of keeping out non-native birds until flickers claim them, in addition to performing the natural function of allowing flickers to excavate. Flickers also use nesting boxes in winter to sleep in. A hole on the back of the box fits over a lag bolt so that the boxes can be lifted on and off easily. An explanatory brochure comes with every box.

Find Ed Hayes, of Mill Creek Woodworks, and his furniture and flicker boxes in the middle of the block on the north side of Bedford Street.

Also on Saturday, May 20, the Ravalli County Museum will celebrate their new collaborative exhibit with the Nez Perce tribe: “The Journey of the Resilient Niimiipuu People” – about the Nez Perce 1877 conflict between the Niimiipuu (Nez Perce), led by Chief Joseph, and the pursuing U.S. army. The Bitterroot Valley is part of that history as the families traveled through here on their way to seeking freedom in Canada.

There will be an Appaloosa Horse Parade and Nez Perce culture presentations, including free children’s activities, and music by a Nez Perce flute and drum duo at market that Saturday.

Music the following Saturday, May 27, will be performed by Kimberlee Carlson and Ron Meissner, performing hot and sultry piano bar tunes.

Produce vendors accept WIC, Senior Food Coupons (from Ravalli County Council on Aging) SNAP tokens and SNAP Healthy Bucks. Stop by to meet the market’s new info booth person, Margie Farrenkopf. She can help you swipe a credit card, exchange SNAP and WIC benefits for market tokens, or lend you a wagon for carrying out larger purchases. Up to seven SNAP customers who request at least $6 in SNAP tokens will receive a free $6 coupon to spend on market veggies and fruit – every Saturday this season!

Hamilton Farmers Market is open Saturdays May 6 through October 14 (the Saturday after Apple Day, held on October 7), 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Bedford Street and S. 3rd Street.

To become a vendor, or for more information, contact Market Manager Laura Craig at 961-0004, hfmc844@gmail.com, visit the Facebook page, or hamiltonfarmersmarket.org. Ravalli County non-profit organizations can set up at no cost at 8:20, if there are open spaces. Inquire at the info booth for availability.

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